We must never forget our fallen colleagues
29 Sept 2016
On the last Sunday of September each year, police officers of all ranks join the families of fallen officers at National Police Memorial Day (NPMD) which is hosted, in rotation by London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.
This year, we were joined at St Paul's Cathedral in London by the patron of the memorial day charity, HRH The Prince of Wales, and the new Home Secretary Amber Rudd but the focus, as ever, was on officers' families.
From the moment the Leicestershire Police contingent arrived - myself, Federation secretary Matt Robinson, Chief Constable Simon Cole and a party of eight retired and serving officers, the atmosphere around St Paul's was quite surreal. With hundreds of officers dressed in tunics, sightseers had no idea what the occasion was all about with many international visitors asking what was to happen.
Either side of the entrances, the steps were lined with police officers and cadets who did us proud and as I entered the cathedral many officers and guests were already sat waiting for Prince Charles to arrive.
This is the third NPMD service that I have attended and each one has felt different in its own special way but it is always a day of thought, remembrance and reflection of the unique role that we perform and are prepared to do day to day.
The names of the three fallen officers who have lost their lives on duty in the last year were read out by our Federation national chairman Steve White.
The reading by Abigail Phillips, the eight-year-old daughter of Merseyside officer David Phillips who last October said goodbye to her Dad one evening as he went to work but never got to see him the following morning, was one of the most admirable things I have ever seen or heard. She read her passage without hesitation or a tear. The inner strength she showed was truly amazing.
Seeing and hearing Abigail, who smiled as she looked up when the petals that fell from the ceiling representing each of our 4,000 officers who have died serving our communities, will be a moment that will be with me forever.
As we left the cathedral and congregated outside, as scheduled, our air support flew over the cathedral and shortly after 60 officers on horseback rode past too.
The founder of the memorial day, Inspector Joe Holness, his wife, Sharon, and all those involved since the first service in 2004 again organised a fitting tribute to our fallen colleagues.
Our officers on the day from City of London Police and the Metropolitan should also be thanked for all that they did to ensure that, despite our current threat level, the day was celebrated without restriction.